Licensed Massage Therapist: Profession or Hobby?

By Terry Russell
June 10, 2014

Licensed Massage Therapist: Profession or Hobby?

By Terry Russell
June 10, 2014

Do you run your massage therapy practice as a profession or a hobby? This is a question every therapist should ask themselves. Whether you are a therapist that is new to the industry or a therapist that has been around a while, you need to evaluate your business practice on a regular basis. Not every week, but at least once or twice a year. While you may consider yourself a professional, the way you conduct your day-to-day business may dictate differently.

Have a Plan

Do you have a business plan? I am not talking about an elaborate plan that you need for a business loan, but just a basic plan that states where you want to take your practice and how you plan to get there. Without some type of plan or route, you are merely drifting in the wind and bound to get sidelined and stranded. Time to ask yourself a few hard questions. What is the state of your current practice? What kind of growth has it seen the past year? What kind of growth do you want to see this year? What hindered your growth last year? What do you plan on doing to reach that growth?

Business plans need to be more than just about how to make more money. Don't get me wrong, making more money should be at the top of your priority list. It just shouldn't be the only thing on your priority list. In addition to your revenue potential, one needs to consider getting new clients, current client retention and how to handle what the competition is doing.

Increase Revenue

What are some easy ways to increase your revenue? By now you have probably seen countless articles on the benefits of retailing. Why is it that many massage therapists do not consider themselves as sales people? Your clients come to you for a service just like one seeks a sales person for service. Same goes for your market cashier, mechanic and everything else that you bring into your life to make it better or easier. Isn't this more than just a mere coincidence? It begins with a need for something currently missing in your life and the search for a person standing by readily to offer professional assistance.

We as massage therapists have the luxury of having access to some of the greatest products on the planet. The manufacturers in our industry work hard every day to be on the cutting edge of science and innovation. There is constantly something new being manufactured to enable massage therapists to perform at their peak level. With all of the products at our fingertips, why is there such as disconnect when it comes to our clients? When you use a new product, take time to educate your client on what you are using and the reason why. Have a small size (4oz or 8oz are always a good start) to sell if that client seems interested. Don't wait for them to ask, but let them know it comes in retail sizes perfect for home use between sessions. If you are using it and believe in it, there is a good chance your client will follow suit.

Get New Clients

How do you attract new clients? Marketing is a key factor whether in social media, print collateral or community involvement. The most successful practice neatly combines all three aspects to get their message out to the masses. Social media is a great way to spread your news and keep up with what is going on around you. Print collateral such as business cards and flyers will never go out of style. Plaster you name and menu of services everywhere your town allows. Last, but not least, been seen in your community. Chair massage is a great way to let the community experience your touch without the potential client committing. Not only will this get your name out there, but it shows your support of the community.

Continuing Education

To maintain quality credentials as a massage therapist, continuing education for certifications and licensure empowers massage therapists to expand their current tool box, step away from the old tried and true and keep abreast of the latest in trends and lifestyles. Expanding your modalities not only expands your menu of services, but allows you to market to new communities. This constant redefining of yourself keeps you vibrant and engaged in your community. Don't you think your clients deserve to share in your educational experiences? Share in the power of that new modality you just learned. If it is a totally new modality for you, sometimes offering a short 30-minute add-on to try it works great. When is the last time you bought something on impulse just because someone gave you a sample? Client retention is critical to defining a successful profession over a hobby of a career. The sampling I mentioned above is a great way to get your current clients engaged in your practice.

Time Management

How do you use your down time? Do you set aside time to work deals during the day? This takes on a twofold purpose. First, from your client standpoint, social media is a good way to offer a special to fill that last minute cancellation or vacant spot on the schedule. Blast a special for 4 p.m. today only. You'll be amazed by the people ready to take you up on a deal. Losing 10% off your normal fee is better than not making anything at all for that hour.

Are your clients curious about your modalities? It is easy to market your modality with a general description of what it is, but does your client "get it?" To make sure they do, mention potential outcomes with the service. For example, Swedish is known for relaxation but changing it up to stress reduction and stressing reduced daily tension, better sleep and lower blood pressure may peak a curious client. Describe your services as part of wellness plans with possible benefits. This new approach over the traditional descriptions help the client understand solutions instead of appearing like a sales pitch.

Know the Competition

How well do you know your competition? If you don't know what they are up to, you stand the risk of losing clients to them. Combat the risk of losing clients to your competition by providing solutions to your client needs and constantly being aware of their changing needs and patterns. Ask your client questions with the objective of creating detailed client profiles. With this knowledge regularly updated, you are in a position to create a wellness plan specifically for them and keep them away from the competition. This personal approach can lower the risk of the client shopping and build loyalty along the way. The end results should be client retention, not to mention referrals to their friends, family and co-workers.

Now that you have had the chance to look over your day to day actions, the way you market your talents and how your fill your down time, ask yourself the cold hard questions. Do you have a business plan? Do you utilize the potential retail dollars of selling them what you use? Do you educate your clients about potential new modalities? Do you offer add-on services? Do you promote yourself? Learn what the competition is doing? And lastly, do you run your massage therapy practice as a profession or a hobby?